by Dr. Denise Chranowski
One day I was talking to a friend about drinking and wanting to drink less and he said, “I know one day I’ll stop drinking. I’m just not sure when that day will be.”
It hit me square between the eyes. It seemed so crystal clear. The day for me had arrived, August 7, 2017. I stopped drinking all alcohol, my beloved chardonnay and sweet cosmos became a thing of the past. I knew in my heart that this was a permanent decision. I also wanted to cement the decision. So I found two books on Amazon and downloaded them to my Kindle. I didn’t want this to be painful. I just wanted it to be permanent. I didn’t want to have to attend meetings. I didn’t want to make this a big deal. I just wanted to stop and stop that day. So I read these books and then I reread them. Those books were The Easy Way for Women to Stop Drinking by Allen Carr and This Naked Mind by Annie Grace.
A little more background:
Since I began journaling over a decade ago, I’ve kept a list of goals. I’d write quarterly and annual goals. Always within the top 3 personal goals, there would appear, “drink less.” In addition to writing my goals, I write letters to myself in my journal. I write about things I want to remember, what’s going on in my life at that moment, great memories and achievements and then some moments where I question my behavior as well. I reread my journals and those letters to myself frequently. The theme was clearly there, curb the habit, but the pleasure of drinking always won out.
Or so I thought. That fateful day in August of 2017, I finally decided that the cost/benefit of drinking alcohol was a losing game.
In no particular order, here are my top ten reasons for letting go alcohol.
- Drinking is expensive. I started drinking when I was 15’ish’. A conservative estimate is I’ve spent $50 each week on alcohol. I’m 48 years old. 33 years X 52 weeks X $50 = $85,800. Sure there were some breaks like when I was pregnant or breast feeding, or when I fasted from alcohol for 40 days, but like I said $50 is a conservative estimate. I’m sure that number was easily $200 many weeks taking into account my mid-week wine and weekend cosmos with social outings. Wow if only I’d invested that money in something great like Amazon.
- I’d become brainwashed to believe that all adult fun must involve alcohol. This is simply not true.
- Alcohol is a drug, and an addictive one. I was kidding myself that I could take it or leave it. I often took it, and then took some more! My recycling cans cannot tell a lie.
- We view a hopeless alcoholic as pathetic but we view the social fun-loving drinker as the life of the party, a role I gladly filled. Truth be told, they are on the same sliding scale, one has just slid further along.
- How could I possibly tell my adult sons to not take drugs, to drink in moderation, when their own mother was both consuming a drug (alcohol) on a regular basis, and often went beyond moderation. Drugs are killing our youth in alarming numbers and yet somehow we justify the most dangerous drug of all, alcohol, to get a pass. Brain-washing at its finest.
- Tums ™became a regular chewable multi-vitamin especially on the weekends. My early chemistry days taught me alcohol is a base. Therefore the body makes acid to neutralize it. Duh, duh, duh.
- I don’t like the taste of alcohol. I don’t sip vodka or gin or whiskey. But add some sugar, and lots of it, and voila my Cosmo emerges. I do not need this.
- I love my life. I don’t need alcohol to love it more.
- Lying is bad. My dad taught me that from early on and emphasized it strongly. I was lying to myself. “I didn’t drink too much last night.” “That headache I have Sunday morning is from lack of sleep, not a hangover.” “I can keep it to two glasses of wine.” “Red wine is healthy for me.” “Everyone drinks, so I must drink too.”
- Most importantly alcohol was robbing me of my self-worth. Two emotions I detest are guilt and shame. Alcohol brought those out. There were many mornings I woke up not knowing if I had drank too much the night before, questioning if I fell asleep or passed out and succumbed to a day of sluggishness. And what was the reward….. Seriously what was the reward? It’s so much better knowing that I fall asleep early each night now because….. I’m tired.
So no, I wasn’t at a point where alcohol was interfering with my life in serious negative ways. But was I supposed to wait for this? Simply look at all the societal messages about alcohol. They are everywhere! Social media, TV ads, pressure from friends to drink…. Take a look and you’ll be surprised. I was the happy partaker and ‘poster’ of these messages. How many more pictures did I need to post with a Cosmo in my hands or sipping a glass of wine.
So that’s it, on to better things. Alcohol is gone. Thank you God. And yes, God no doubt brought me to this decision. He’d only been trying to tell me for a decade. I finally listened.